Beckham’s boots for his last game
David Beckham plays in the final match of his career on May 26th. As he heads into retirement, he carries the pride of Great Britain. Typical Becks.
Thanks for the memories, Becks
We could rattle off a list of all the achievements that David Beckham has won throughout the course of his career, but the truth is, you already know. From the free kicks to the H&M advertisements, David Beckham quickly became an ever-present, unrelenting force in sports and style, one of the first footballers to be embraced and recognized on such a global scale. And while some may maintain a cynical perspective on the trajectory Beckham’s career took, we here at AFR HQ will always remember his ability to transform a monotonous, insignificant match, into a spectacle.
Photography: Lee Smith/Action Images
Fernando Torres scores Chelsea’s first as they beat Benfica 2-1 in the Europa League Final
Benfica hopes to fly away from the Gutmann curse
There’s a curse in Lisbon known as the ‘Guttman curse’, named after the Hungarian manager who led Benfica to back-to-back European titles in the early 60s. That was 51 years ago in Amsterdam, where the legendary quadruple of Aguas, Coluna, Eusebio and Simoes, sunk Real Madrid 5-3, to place Benfica as one of the leaders of world football. And following Bela Guttman’s second trophy, he left the club.
Benfica went on to become one of the clubs that has lost the most European finals, 6 to be precise. But their last presence in a final was the 1990 European Cup Final, losing 1-0 to Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan - which was arguably viewed as the best team in the world. Despite qualifying for their eighth European final, it was evident that Benfica were not at the level or quality that won them greatness in the 60s.
23 years later and the club is back on a stage that they used to visit much more often. Much has changed since their last visit; a new stadium, Porto rising and dominating the domestic football, overcoming their financial troubles and having a much larger South American presence amongst their squad.
“The goalkeeper picks a side and dives 93.7 percent of the time and just stands in the middle only 6.3 percent of the time. There was a clear bias toward action.”
The Journal of Economic Psychology recently looked at the link between decision making and penalty kicks, and found, somewhat surprisingly, that goalkeepers might be better off doing nothing at all.
Analyzing close to 300 penalty kick situations, the study considered goalkeeper’s decisions in regards to which direction to move towards, the area to which the ball was actually kicked, and most importantly, whether the penalty was actually blocked.
The conclusion? Goalkeepers dive right or left 93.7% of the time, and choose to remain in the center in only 6.3% of penalty kick situations.
The problem comes from the fact that the direction of penalty kicks were distributed much more evenly, with almost 30% of penalty kicks sent towards the center of the goal.
But if goalkeepers could “almost double their save percentage by doing nothing,” why do they almost always choose to dive?
The researchers point towards something called action bias. Essentially, there’s an accepted norm that goalkeepers dive when attempting to block penalty kicks. If they fail to block a penalty kick when diving, they are considered to have made an effort; if they stay in the center when a penalty tucks into a corner, they’re lazy, indecisive, and made no attempt to block the ball. Goalkeepers favor action because of social expectations.
An early exit after 27 years: Sir Alex steps down in his own style
The numbers pop out of his resume like eyes out of a cartoon character: he won 27 major trophies with United over the same number of years; he outlasted 116 managers on seven major European clubs; and he’s won 75% of his home games at Old Trafford. Nothing satisfied his hunger for success, and his diet never consisted of anything but winning. He’s always the first man at Carrington, the team’s training facility in Greater Manchester, there before staff and players as early as 5 a.m. He’s said over and over that he has trouble envisioning life without football. Retirement was something he wasn’t exactly ready for. “Nobody’s getting rid of me,” Sir Alex Ferguson told The Guardian in March.
Nobody – not the media, not the club, not his body – but himself did.